1334.) John 9

June 12, 2014

“The Man Born Blind” by Henri Lindegaard, 2003.

John 9   (NRSV)

A Man Born Blind Receives Sight

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes,

Not many people would appreciate having mud made with spit rubbed in their eyes!  Some would look at how Jesus did this miracle and object, saying that it was offensive, inadequate, or even harmful to rub mud made with spit in a man’s eyes.

In the same way, some feel that the gospel is offensive.  It is true that it offends man’s pride and human wisdom, but it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21)

In the same way, some feel that the gospel is inadequate.  But have all the psychiatric and political and social programs in the world done more good than the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ?

In the same way, some feel that the gospel is harmful, that the free offer of grace in Jesus will cause people to sin that grace may abound.  But the gospel changes our life for the good and the pure, not unto wickedness.

–David Guzik

7saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.

Psalm 146:8 (New International Version)

The LORD sets prisoners free,
  the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
   the LORD loves the righteous.

8The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?”

9Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.”

10But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?”

11He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.”

12They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

The Pharisees Investigate the Healing

“The Blind Man Tells his Story to the Jews” by James Tissot, 1898.

13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.”

16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.”

They ignore the wonderful healing and focus on the day that it happened.  How silly we are when we major in the minors!

But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided.

17So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”

He said, “He is a prophet.”

18The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”

I am almost impressed by how thoroughly they investigate this situation, looking for holes in the story!  How diligent we are when we seek to believe what we want to believe, against all evidence otherwise!

20His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God!

Shakespeare gave us a similar idea but with different phrasing:

“And I can teach thee, coz, to shame the devil
By telling truth: tell truth and shame the devil.”

from Henry IV, Part One, 1597

We know that this man is a sinner.”

25He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

26They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

27He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”

28Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.”

30The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

34They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.

My mother used to say, “There is none so blind as him who will not see.”  How arrogant we are when we think we alone know the truth!

Spiritual Blindness

35Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

36He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.”

37Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.”

Asking the question is more than half way to having the answer.  How privileged we are when Jesus reveals himself to us!

38He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.

39Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?”

41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus,
To reach out and touch Him
And say that we love Him.

Open our ears Lord
And help us to listen,
Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus.

_________________________

Music:

I once was blind, but now I see.  “Amazing Grace” is sung  HERE  by Nana Mouskouri.  This woman with the beautiful voice was born in Greece in 1934.  She has recorded music in fifteen languages over five decades and has sold more than 400 million discs.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)  Verse 3 could be rephrased to read:  You were born so that God’s works might be revealed in you.   Look a moment at your own life.  Thank God for where you see his works in you and through you.  Ask him to show you more clearly what else he would like to do in your life.  What else would you like to do for the Lord?  Pray bold prayers to an infinitely loving, infinitely able God!

2)   The hymn “Amazing Grace” was written in 1779 by slave-trader-turned-clergyman John Newton.  It is estimated that it is performed about 10 million times annually!  What is it about that hymn which makes it so popular, do you think?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Lindegaard.    http://www.artbible.net/3JC/-luk-18,35-Healing%20Blindness-Guerissant%20les%20aveugles/20%20LINDEGAARD%20L%20AVEUGLE%20DE%20NAISSANCE.jpg
Tissot.    http://truthbook.com/images/gallery/James_Tissot_Blind_Man_Tells_His_Story_to_the_Jews_525.jpg
healed man worships Jesus.  http://www.togethertocelebrate.com.au/17CuaresmaA4.jpg

1333.) John 8:31-59

June 11, 2014

John 8:31-59   (NRSV)

True Disciples

31Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

TRUTH SETS YOU FREE

God’s truth never restricts you; it always sets you free!  Are you discouraged?  Is there a sense of bondage in a particular area in your life?  A lack of victory over a certain sin?  A harmful addiction?  It is possible that you do not yet understand a truth about God that can release you.

If you feel powerless to meet the challenges before you, take encouragement from the promise of Philippians 4:13 — I can do all things though Christ who strengthens me.  If you are defeated by circumstance, hold on to the truth of Romans 8:28 that God can work your most difficult situation into His good.  If you are enslaved to a particular sin, work the truth of 1 John 1:9 into your life, which promises that if you confess your sin, God is faithful to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.  All of these truths await the Holy Spirit’s implementation into your life.

It is one thing to know about the truth.  It is yet another thing to experience the truth of God being worked out in your life.  God’s truth will have no effect upon you unless you accept it and believe it.  Perhaps you have already read and heard accounts of God working mightily in the lives of others.  But have you allowed God to implement those truths into your life?  What truth about God would you like to be experiencing in your life?  Ask Him to implement that truth into your life today.

33They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”

What?!  They are forgetting the 400 years of slavery in Egypt, and the 70 years of exile to Babylon, and even the present occupation of their land by the Romans!  By denying their enslavement, whether political or spiritual, they are denying their need for Jesus and the true freedom he can give them.  And isn’t it amazing how easily we will believe a lie if it suits us.

34Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

_________________________

Music:

Praise God!  “I am Free!”  Click  HERE  and join in the celebration!

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37I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. 38I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.”

Jesus and Abraham

39They answered him, “Abraham is our father.”

Genesis 15:5-6 (New International Version)

He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, 40but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41You are indeed doing what your father does.”

They said to him, “We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.”

42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. 43Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. 44You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John8 devil-liar

I love how the NIV puts it:  When he lies, he speaks his native language  . . .

45But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.

46Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.”

48The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

By calling Jesus a Samaritan, they are claiming he is not a true Jew, not a true son of Abraham.  By saying Jesus has a demon, they are connecting Jesus with the devil instead of with God.

49Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and he is the judge. 51Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.”

52The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ 53Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?”

54Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, ‘He is our God,’ 55though you do not know him. But I know him; if I would say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. 56Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.”

57Then the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”

58Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.

This is the third time in this chapter Jesus uses the phrase I Am (John 8:24, 8:28), and here in John 8:58.

I Am: The ancient Greek phrase is ego emi, which is the same term used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament in Jesus’ day to describe the Voice from the burning bush.

In using the phrase I Am (John 8:24, 8:58, 13:19) Jesus used a clear divine title belonging to Yahweh alone (Exodus 3:13-14, Deuteronomy 32:39, Isaiah 43:10) and was interpreted as such by Jesus’ listeners (John 8:58-59).

–David Guzik

59So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   Jesus says anyone who commits a sin is “a slave to sin.”  Some of my readers may remember saying this confession in church: “We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.”  Have there been times in your life when you have felt the weight of that bondage?  Thank God for the gloriousness of his forgiveness!

2)   Galatians 3:26-29 says:  So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,  for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  So through Christ, Abraham is your father, too!  What does this mean?  What fullness of blessing does this bring?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
dove.  http://missionventureministries.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/john-8-vs-32.jpg
Abraham and the stars.  http://www.fbctopeka.com/Websites/fbctopeka/images/Worship%20Arts/Bill%20-%20L3/abraham-stars.jpg
the devil is a liar.    http://blogs.psychcentral.com/amazed-by-grace/files/2013/03/devil-liar.jpg
I AM.  http://susancorso.com/seedsforsanctuary/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/I_AM.jpg

1332.) John 8:1-30

June 10, 2014

John8 first stone

John 8:1-30   (NRSV)

Then each of them went home, while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them.

3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.

They ignore the obvious question:  Where is the man who is equally culpable in this act of adultery?

5Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him.

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground.

9When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

Romans 8:1 (King James Version)

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

_________________________

Music:

Oh, the kindness of Jesus Christ!  HERE  is “Forgiving Eyes” by Michael Card.  The video clips are from a 1999 television film called Jesus.  (If you want to read the lyrics, click here.)

_________________________

12Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

Psalm 119:105 (New International Version)

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Since Jesus is the Word (John 1:1), it follows that he is also the light.

13Then the Pharisees said to him, “You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.”

14Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15You judge by human standards; I judge no one. 16Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. 18I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf.”

Jesus can testify about Himself because He, not they, has view of eternity: I know where I came from and where I am going.

Jesus can testify about Himself because He, not they, judges righteously: You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.

Jesus can testify about Himself because His testimony is fully supported by God the Father: My judgment is true; for I am not alone.

–David Guzik

19Then they said to him, “Where is your Father?”

Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

21Again he said to them, “I am going away, and you will search for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.”

22Then the Jews said, “Is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?”

23He said to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 24I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.”

The word “he” is added by translators so the sentence will make sense in English.  Jesus calls them to “believe that I am,” which the Jews would hear as a claim to deity.

25They said to him, “Who are you?”

This question of the Pharisees comes from a combination of willful confusion and contempt. Though Jesus has told them over and over who He is, they will continue to ask until they get an answer they can use to condemn Him.

Jesus said to them, “Why do I speak to you at all? 26I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.”

27They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. 28So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me.

When Jesus says he will be “lifted up,” he means “lifted up” off the ground on a cross. When Jesus is crucified, they will see the perfect obedience of the Son to the Father.

29And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” 30As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   What do you think Jesus may have written on the ground?

2)   Jesus’ words in 8:7 — Let he who is without sin cast the first stone — are commonly used today.  Have you used this phrase?  Has anyone ever said these words to you?  What do these words say to your heart, your life?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
They kept demanding an answer.    http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/75401-john8-7.jpg
Jesus writing.  http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/jesussand.jpg
No condemnation.   http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/no-condemnation-101blog.jpg
Jesus on the cross.    http://www.artoflegendindia.com/images/images_big/pbbc208_jesus_cross.jpg

1331.) John 7:31-53

June 9, 2014

John7 mountain stream

John 7:31-53   (NRSV)

31Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, ‘When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?’

32The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering such things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent temple police to arrest him. 33Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”

35The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36What does he mean by saying, ‘You will search for me and you will not find me’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”

37On the last day of the festival, the great day,

At the Feast of Tabernacles, water was poured out daily at the altar to remind everyone of the water God miraculously provided for a thirsty Israel in the wilderness.

–David Guzik

while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”

39Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

40When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.”

41Others said, “This is the Messiah.”

But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? 42Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” 43So there was a division in the crowd because of him.

Where is the fact checker?!  They could have done just a bit of research — maybe ask him where he was born or something . . .

44Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

45Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest him?”

46The police answered, “Never has anyone spoken like this!”

47Then the Pharisees replied, “Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? 48Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.”

50Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, 51“Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?”

52They replied, “Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.” 53Then each of them went home.

Galileans were objects of Judean scorn, and the butt of Judean jokes.  To the Jewish leaders from Judea, nothing good could come from Galilee.  But in fact, a prophet had risen from Galilee.  Jonah, who was a type of Jesus, came from Gath Hepher, which was three miles north of Nazareth in Lower Galilee (2 Kings 14:25).

–David Guzik

_________________________

Music:

Isaiah 55:1 —

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
   come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
   come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
   without money and without cost.

 John 4:13-14 —

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

HERE  is “Come to the water”  sung by Matt Maher.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   Verse 39 says that Jesus used the term “living water” to refer to the Holy Spirit.  What additional understanding of the Holy Spirit does that phrase give you?

2)   Our friend Nicodemus shows up in verse 50.  Judging from what he says there, what impact do you think his conversation with Jesus in chapter 3 has had on him?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
mountain stream.    http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/09fe6-mountains2010093verse.jpg
waterfall.    http://www.richardpalmerphotography.com/uploads/processed/0905/0901270631431john_7_37-38_living_water.jpg

1330.) John 7:1-31

June 6, 2014

John 7:1-31   (NRSV)

The Unbelief of Jesus’ Brothers

After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. 2Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near.

The festival of Booths, also known as the Feast of Tabernacle, was a joyful, week-long celebration, when families camped out in “booths” made of branches and leaves to remember God’s faithfulness to Israel during the wilderness wanderings.

3So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; 4for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5(For not even his brothers believed in him.)

6Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. 8Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.” 9After saying this, he remained in Galilee.

Jesus at the Festival of Booths

John7 booths

10But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret. 11The Jews were looking for him at the festival and saying, “Where is he?” 12And there was considerable complaining about him among the crowds. While some were saying, “He is a good man,” others were saying, “No, he is deceiving the crowd.” 13Yet no one would speak openly about him for fear of the Jews.

14About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. 15The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?”

16Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. 17Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. 18Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

TRUTH AS A PERSON

Jesus talked a lot about truth.  Note how often the word occurs in the gospel of John.  When he spoke about truth, Jesus spoke in personal terms.  You will remember that he refused, much to the dismay of many people, particularly the philosophers, to speak of truth in abstraction, as though it existed in itself.  He wanted to relate truth to himself and to his Father in an existential way.  He even went beyond that; ultimately he identified truth completely with himself and his Father.

The temple authorities, troubled by Jesus and wanting to know the truthfulness of his message, challenged him.  He responded, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God” (John 7:17).

Jesus thus affirmed the truthfulness of his own teaching in terms of a relationship to his Father.  Sometimes we would like to translate that answer into, “Anyone who does the truth will certainly know it.”  But that is not the way Jesus spoke or thought.  We should never be fooled.  There was no truth for Jesus apart from the Father.  Truth was simply the Father’s will.  Thus personal categories are appropriate when we speak of truth because the ultimate categories are all personal.  Ultimately, Jesus is the truth.

If we develop a love affair with the truth and pursue it far enough, we will find the truth.  When we find it, we will have found Jesus and that he is the one we need. 

19“Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?” 20The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?”

21Jesus answered them, “I performed one work, and all of you are astonished.

See chapter 5, verses 2 through 18.

22Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. 23If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath?

If it is permitted (even commanded) to do a negative work (such as cutting away the flesh in circumcision) on the Sabbath, why not a positive work (healing a man) that brings wholeness?

24Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

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Music:

HERE  is “Give Me Faith”  from Elevation Worship.

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Is This the Christ?

25Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? 26And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? 27Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”

28Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from.

I wonder what tone of voice Jesus used when he said this sentence.  Was he being a bit sarcastic — “Yeah, right, you think you know me and where I come from, but in reality, it would blow your mind!”  Or was he being instructive — “Let’s start with what you know and move on so I can teach you what you don’t know.”  Either way, he was, as he always is, speaking the truth.

I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. 29I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”

30Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, “When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?”

John7 who-is-he

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Reflections:

1)   Had I lived in Jesus’ time — would I have believed in him?  What would have convinced me — or caused me to doubt?  Lord, help me to believe with all my heart and mind and soul now!

2)   Jesus speaks often about what is true.  Later in John he will declare, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  What does it mean to you that Jesus is truth?  How does that fact impact how you think and act?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Give me faith.  http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/givemefaith1.jpg
festival of Booths.    http://jamestabor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Sukkoth-2.jpg
Jesus is the truth.   http://wowchristiangifts.com/images/33407-JesusIsTheTruth.jpg
Who is He?    https://www.churchofthehighlands.com/images/content/series/_series_hero/who-is-he.jpg

1329.) John 6:25-71

June 5, 2014

John 6:25-71   (NRSV)

The Bread from Heaven

25When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”

26Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”

28Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?”

29Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

Acts 16:29-31 (New International Version)

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.  He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

30So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

32Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35Jesus said to them, “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE.

Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; 38for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

John 4:34 — Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.

John 6:38 — For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.

The words are for all of us.  My meat, my very food, the thing I cannot do without, is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work — not to leave it half done.  It is so easy to do nothing because one cannot do much — and that also is not to finish His work.

To do His work requires a definite and repeated turning away from our own will.  “I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.”  It will mean a daily choice, perhaps an hourly choice, of something which is not our own will at all.  It will mean faithfulness, patience, courage.  O Lord, give us hour by hour these great virtues.

39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”

41Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

43Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. 44No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

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Music:

HERE  is “Bread of Heaven”  by Fred Hammond, who is a gospel singer, bass guitar player, and record producer.

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52The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

53So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” 59He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

The Words of Eternal Life

60When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”

Indeed.  Jesus has claimed to be one a) who has descended from heaven, b) who must be the object of their belief, and c) who must be feasted upon in order for them to receive eternal life.  Those who were listening to him saw Jesus as the son of Joseph; how could he also be the one who came down from heaven?  And once Jesus began talking about the need to eat his flesh — the Torah strictly prohibited eating blood; the very idea was disgusting to them.

The metaphor is still a stumbling block for many.  Yet for those of us who do believe in Jesus, who agree with Peter in the next verses that “You have the words of eternal life” — what blessing indeed is found in the body and blood of Christ, given for us on the cross.

61But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”

66Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”

68Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

70Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” 71He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

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Reflections:

1)   Jesus says that he is the bread of life.  What images does that convey?  How have you been nourished by this bread?

2)   “Alleluia!  Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  Do you often tell Jesus what you think of him and about him?  That is one way to praise him for his excellent greatness!  What are several other qualities of Jesus — not gifts from him, but characteristics of him — that you can thank him for today?  (This verse is my end-of-my-rope prayer:  Lord, I have no where else to go.  Only You.)

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
bread of life.   http://www.billiesilvey.com/bread_of_life.jpg
believe.   http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/believe1.jpg
I AM.   http://www.tortolita.org/images/iam.gif
It’s your decision.  http://quickbase.intuit.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/itsyourdecision.jpg
bread and wine.    http://jameswoodward.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/11lastsupper_s.jpg
To whom shall we go?  http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/weblog/pritchard/john6_68b.jpg

1328.) John 6:1-24

June 4, 2014

“Loaves and Fishes” by John August Swanson, 2003.

John 6:1-24   (NRSV)

Feeding the Five Thousand

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.

5When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” 6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.

7Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”

8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”

Explanation

The key to interpreting this incident lies with the word “small.” There are at least three possibilities:

  1. “Small” refers not to the fish, but to the lad. There is, unfortunately, little textual evidence for this approach.
  2. “Small,” being a relative term, refers to the fish which, though large by some standards, would be considered small indeed compared to, say, a blue whale.
  3. “Small” refers not to the relative size of the fish but to their number — two.

Note: For each of these explanations, there remain a few unsolved logistical problems concerning the transportation of the lad’s lunch.

–sandscribbler.wordpress.com

:)

10Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.

Jesus is so calm and orderly.  People are settled down before the food starts going out.  Leftovers were picked up, and the picnic spot was left as clean as they found it.

14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

15When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Jesus Walks on the Water

16When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

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Music:

In Matthew’s account of the story of Jesus walking on the water, Peter asks if he can walk on water, too.  Jesus tells him, “Come.”

Jesus asked the man at the pool of Bethesda, “Do you want to be healed?”

Can you tell God what you want, and trust God for it, even though it seems beyond you?  Then come.

HERE  is Britt Nicole singing “Walk on the Water.”

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22The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
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Reflections:

1)   How do we, like Philip, limit what God can do in, for, and through us by assuming what is and is not possible?  Where in your own prayers are you — unintentionally! — holding God to your estimate of what can be done?

2)   Are these stories helping you trust God more?  Are they helping you see more in your life for which to praise and thank God?

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Swanson.   http://www.johnaugustswanson.com/default.cfm?PID=1.2.15.1
lunch cartoon.   http://sandscribbler.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/me_feeding5000_color.png
Jesus walks on water.   http://www.deebrestin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/jesus-walking-on-water.jpg

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